Union Chain Bridge closure for further National Lottery bid works

View looking onto a historical pedestrian bridge

Published: Friday, 21st December 2018

A six week series of closures of the iconic Union Chain Bridge will be taking place in the New Year as further progress is made on the second round National Lottery bid.

Union Chain Bridge closure

The closure begins on Monday 7 January and runs from 9am to 4pm, with the bridge fully open at weekends.

Pedestrians and cyclists will continue to be able to use the bridge but may face short delays at times until it is safe to cross.


To minimise the impact for local residents and nearby visitor attractions, and because of the nature of the works, there may be periods during this time when the road is open to all traffic and diversion and advance warning signs will notify drivers of this happening.

A fully signed diversion route will be in place for the duration of the closure, which will allow the development activities to support the second round Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid to take place.  This will include chamber inspections to the English and Scottish towers, painting works and a pilot study of the handrails for future repairs.

Conservation project

The works are required as part of an ambitious project to conserve the historic bridge, which is currently in a one year development phase after initial support for National Lottery funding from the HLF was approved in March 2018, securing a £360,000 development grant.

It meant the £7.3million project could be progressed further, ahead of a second round bid submission planned in March 2019.

We are working together with a range of groups on the scheme, including:

  • Northumberland County Council
  • community group the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge
  • Museums Northumberland (formerly known as the Woodhorn Charitable Trust) 

A spokesperson for the partners of the Union Chain Bridge project

“We realise this is a lengthy daytime closure but it is absolutely essential that we undertake further detailed investigations into the condition of the bridge and to trial some of the proposed conservation works, so that our second round bid to the National Lottery has the best possible chance of success.

“Alongside conserving and promoting the Union Chain Bridge, our project also aims to raise the profile of nearby attractions, providing learning opportunities for young people inspired by the bridge’s innovative engineering, and developing meaningful cross-border heritage projects and partnerships.

“We hope local people understand the need to close the road to vehicles during weekdays, with the bridge fully open to all at weekends and still open Monday to Friday for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.”

Further Information

Images can be downloaded on our Flickr page.

Drone footage of the Union Chain Bridge is available on NCC’s YouTube channel.

Pledge your support for the Union Chain Bridge

More about the Union Chain Bridge

  • Built by Captain Samuel Brown in 1820, the Union Chain Bridge is currently the oldest operational suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles, and through securing National Lottery support, it is anticipated that the bridge project can also deliver numerous cultural, heritage, educational and community benefits.
  • The Union Chain Bridge project also aims to use the structure and its conservation to develop educational resources and case study materials for the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects from primary schools up to postgraduate level.
  • This would aim to inspire a new generation to choose careers in science and engineering and to follow in the footsteps of Captain Samuel Brown.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife - www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery #HLFsupported.

*Heritage Grants (HG) applications are assessed in two rounds. The Union Chain Bridge project has initially been granted round one development funding of £360,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans.  Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £3,140,000.